Why do I do this every year? It's simple. I love having fresh cut flowers such as roses in my house, so I have been willing to tackle this annual task. This year I was better prepared. I wore long sleeves, my thick Duluth overalls and had gloves on as I worked on pruning back the rose bushes. In the past, the rose bushes with their thorns have left evidence upon me that I have tackled the job of pruning them. I was hoping to avoid that this year. And it worked or so I thought. I came out with not a single scratch. Unfortunately right as I was cleaning up the area one little thorn tore right through my glove, and somehow in the process a splinter entered my hand.
Usually it is best to immediately remove a splinter. I didn’t. I left it under my skin. It didn’t really hurt and I thought it would just work out of my skin naturally.
Only it didn’t. And it has been a month. This little splinter has become permanently embedded under my skin, becoming a tiny little irritation that I look at and feel frequently. An irritation that could possibly continue to grow even possibly to infection. So I must get out the tools; the tweezers, magnifying glass, and perhaps even sharp edge of a razor blade to remove the splinter. What would have been so easy to remove is now going to be a major pain.
As I have been chastising myself for not removing the splinter the day it entered my skin, I have been comparing that with the little annoyances or irritations that come into our spiritual lives. Both need to be removed quickly or damage can be done. A physical splinter is really minor compared to the splinters we allow into our hearts - disrupting our love for one another. It starts innocently, we simply become annoyed with a situation or a person. It is either something someone says or does that we allow to get under our skin, and annoy us. Perhaps it is repeated annoyances with another. These begin to grow and fester rapidly morphing into a major grievance. Forgiveness is no where to be seen. We begin to think ill of the person, perhaps we try to avoid the person or worse yet speak ill of the one we have allowed to get us into a full blown state of contention.
I wonder if this is what happened with two sisters in Christ, Euodia and Syntyche, that Paul speaks of in the book of Philippians? These two women will forever be known as the two sisters who couldn’t get along.
Therefore my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, so stand firm in the Lord my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true comrade, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Philippians 4: 1-3
Take a closer look at this. These two women were workers in the Kingdom, sharing with Paul in his struggle for the gospel of Christ. Wow. That is amazing to be mentioned in the word of God as a fellow worker for the cause of Christ. They must have been hard working women who put Christ first choosing to commit to work for His cause- to further the gospel.
What an awful little word, three letters that can often negate the good. Three little letters that when put together can be like a thorn ripping out the good and replacing with pain.
They couldn’t get along. They were out of harmony and therefore causing disruption in the work and the love of the church at Philippi. There was a splinter festering in their hearts. To the point that the Apostle Paul had to mention it in his letter- to this group of Christians whom he considered his crown and joy. His plea was to help these two women, these two workers for the Lord - to get along. How sad to be known as the two women who couldn't get along.
While we will never know the source of the splinter nor the outcome of Paul’s admonition, I do wonder.
I wonder if Euodia and Syntyche prayed earnestly for each other.
I wonder if Euodia and Syntyche tried to talk to one another about the splinter between them.
I wonder if Eudoia and Syntyche loved - really truly loved- one another.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
Love doesn't cover someone else's sin, it covers our sin.
It stops splinters from entering our heart and festering into contention.
It’s time for me to remove the splinter in my hand. I've allowed it to stay for too long, so now I must do the hard - slightly painful work - of removing the foreign object before it becomes a permanent part of my skin - potentially damaging the tissue they are under.
Perhaps it’s also time to remove splinters from our hearts - and do the hard work of praying and loving those who have gotten under our skin, before it festers, damaging our ability to love unconditionally as our Lord wants us to.
I hope that Euodia and Syntyche were able to remove the splinter that caused the disharmony. I hope they followed the rest of the Apostle Paul's admonition found in Chapter 4 of Philippians. Please forgive my paraphrase of Philippians 4: 6-8.
~Be anxious for nothing (Don't get all worked up about the things that irritate, or bother)
~Let your requests (anything your are concerned about ) be known to God
~Have a grateful heart when you do so
~Think on the true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good (about the other person- or whatever is annoying to you)
~Dwell on the good
Thats how we remove splinters from our hearts and in so doing cover a multitude of sins.